Vegetables have always been an important part of the organic rotation at Wakelyns Agroforestry, and squashes in particular are a favourite crop. Marion Gaze (mother to Joe, our operations manager) has grown them at the farm since the 1990s, but over the last couple of years has passed the batton to Jannine.
Squash boxes are made up and despatched once a week (on the date above) and dispatched on the same day for next-day delivery. Orders for Wednesday dispatch must be placed by 8am on the Monday - this is to ensure they fit in with the bread pre-order cycle.
We're delighted to be able to offer this harvest of squashes - mainly because they're at once beautiful and delicious, but also because they've been grown at Wakelyns Agroforestry and reflect an approach to farming and a set of values close to our hearts.
Central to all that happens at Wakelyns is diversity - in the agroforesty rows and the annual strips between, in the biodiversity supported by the farm and in the people who work on and visit the land.
Jannine planted a range of winter squash varieties this year. We've got six types in the box; all have been carefully cured to mature and sweeten the flesh and ensure they store well.
Jack-Be-Little (x 2, approx 150g each) Delightful and diminutive - in fact quite possibly the smallest pumpkin variety. Jack-Be-Little make wonderful halloween decorations, but more to the point, they taste great. Roast them whole and serve like a baked potato or cut them up for use much like the Orange Hokkaido.
Black Fatsu (x 1, approx 1kg) Initiallly green, Black Fatsu squashes turn a rusty orange in storage. A deeply ridged squash, popular in Japan and increasinigly grown in the UK, Black Fatsu has a delicious hazelnut flavoured flesh. You need do little more than slice into wedges, roast and serve with salt an pepper.
Butternut (x 1, approx 750g) Thin skinned and with sweet orange flesh, butternut really live up to their name in terms of flavour and texture. Perfect for soups or stews and like all squashes, delicious roasted. Try blending roasted butternut with chickpeas and using as an alternative to more usual houmous.
Orange Hokkaido (x 1, approx 1kg) A beautiful orange skinned squash with firm, sweet, chestnutty flesh. Roasts beautifully and makes excellent winter soups, or try pureeing the flesh with creme fraiche (or alternative), seasoning with salt and pepper and using as a pasta sauce, particularly good with our mezzi rigatoni.
Green Kuri or Buttercup (x 1, approx 750g) Dark green with pale stripes and dense orange flesh. These squashes lend themselves well as an alternative to mashed potato on top of winter pies. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, bake until tender then scoop the flesh out and use just as you would mashed potato. Also excellent raw; slice into very thin ribbons, marinate in Liberty Fields balsamic vinegar and serve as an appetiser or side salad.
Sweet Dumpling (x 2, approx 400g each) Ridged cream and green striped skin with pale yellow flesh. Carefully cut off the top, scoop out the seeds, stuff as you prefer - though make sure that whatever you put in will cook at the same rate as the squash - and bake until tender.
We've suggested recipes ideas that work particularly well with each variety, but they're quite interchangeable. And don't throw away the seeds from your squashes, they can be roasted or toasted and used in bread, as sprinkles on salads or as a tasty snack.
When you get your box don't be tempted to refrigerate the squashes, they prefer being kept in a warmish (10 to 20C), well ventilated room. All the squash will store until Christmas, and probably into January (but do check for signs of rot the longer you have them).